Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
Night Swimming was one of my most anticipated #LoveOzYA releases of 2017 — and it was definitely worth the wait. Ever since I read All This Could End, a quirky, powerful novel about friendship and the true meaning of family, I’ve been dying to get my hands on Night Swimming. This novel, centring around a romance between two girls in a small town, was even more phenomenal than I had hoped for. It was heartwarming, funny, and incredibly cute. If you’re a fan of contemporaries and are looking for another YA novel featuring a queer protagonist, you can’t go past Night Swimming.
While I love reading novels that are set in Melbourne or Sydney — places that I know like the back of my hand and can imagine following the characters through every step of their journeys — there’s something equally as exciting about novels set in small Aussie towns. I adore how they have little rituals that are sacred for each town, and how they seem to form such a community. While you might think Night Swimming conforms to the ‘no one leaves this town but everyone wants to’ trope, that doesn’t make this novel any less spectacular. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of pop punk in their lives?
One of the things I loved most about Night Swimming was the diverse array of characters. Iris, the love interest, is biracial. Kirby’s best friend, Clancy, is Chinese-Australian. And there’s also excellent mental illness representation. All the characters in this gorgeous novel were unique and vibrant, and I loved getting to know them all and see their interactions with Kirby. Kirby herself was such a fun character to get to know, and I loved her relationships with her best friend and her crush. The presence of her family was also very important in the storyline, and I was pleased to find that Night Swimming wasn’t another case of the missing parents.
The romance was definitely my favourite element of Night Swimming. Not only do I adore any realistic queer romances in novels, but I felt as though the relationship between Iris and Kirby was genuine and just utterly adorable. But my favourite character would definitely have to be Clancy. He was such a hilarious character, complete with his love of musical theatre and dramatic plans. And then Iris was something different altogether. She was an intriguing character, complete with her own dark mysteries concealed by a bubbly exterior.
Ultimately, Night Swimming is a gorgeous new #LoveOzYA novel that should be on your TBR. Full of adorable moments, a swoon-worthy and realistic romance and a diverse range of characters, this has got to be one of my favourite Aussie releases of 2017.
Have you read Night Swimming yet? Do you read a lot of Aussie YA novels? What are some of your favourites? Do you have any recommendations? Let’s chat all about our favourite #LoveOzYA books!
Thanks to Text Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!